What Are Glycans?
What are glycans?
Glycans are complex carbohydrate molecules and one of the four primary components of the cell (alongside DNA, proteins and lipids). Our cells are coated with a thick layer of glycans.
Why are they important?
Glycans perform numerous tasks and play a major role in all essential functions of the human body, including our immune system. They participate in virtually all our body’s processes; therefore, it is not surprising that molecular defects in glycan synthesis are recognised as a direct cause of an increasing number of diseases.
What impact can glycan analysis have on health?
Awareness and crucially interest among clinicians about the importance of glycans in disease is increasing rapidly. Studies have demonstrated that individual variation in glycome composition is large. These differences may explain why there is variation in how diseases develop and how people respond to therapy.
A recent development in methods to analyse glycans provide new insight into disease-associated glycan changes. Now with the potential to classify patients according to individual disease predisposition, prognosis, and response to therapy, glycan analysis has a huge capacity to contribute to the ever-evolving, cutting edge field of precision medicine.
What is protein glycosylation?
Protein Glycosylation is a process in which complex glycans are chemically attached to proteins to form glycoproteins. It has been estimated that more than half of all human proteins are glycosylated. The attached glycans provide proteins with important structural and functional properties.
Why is IgG glycosylation important?
Glycoprotein immunoglobulin G (IgG) is the most abundant class of antibody in the blood. It plays an important role in protecting the body against different kinds of diseases, attacking viruses, bacteria or cancer cells.
IgG glycosylation differs greatly between individuals and appears to be affected by both variations in the DNA sequence and by environmental factors.
As an organism is ageing, changes in IgG glycosylation pattern occur, which affects function of the immune system. Even slight changes in IgG glycosylation can promote or suppress inflammation and may significantly contribute to the process of biological ageing.
IgG glycans have therefore become the new biomarker of biological age.
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